Nahunta, GA to Fernandina Beach, FL
Last night before I went to sleep I hear a knock on my door and to my delight it was Ms. Blanche. She had brought me my laundry and sitting right on top was a bag full of delicious treats! A couple of bananas, some raisins, a fruit cup, Little Debbie snacks and a candy bar. I thanked her profusely and she said, “Oh, it’s nothing. A goodie bag for a goodie boy!”. She’s the best. I woke up this morning at around 7, packed up my stuff and went downstairs to load Forrest up for the long day ahead. To my dismay, Ms. Blanche wasn’t at the front desk so I could give her a proper goodbye but I left a note for her expressing my thanks. I wheel my Bike outside, put on my helmet and am about to pedal away when I hear a melodious voice behind me say, “So you’re leaving me?” I turn around and there she is, a smile unfolding like a sunflower in the morning light. She says, punctuating each sentance, “I just wanted to say, God bless you, son. Now. I’m going to hug you. And then i’m going to let you get on your way.” She did just that and I rode off. She truly was a diamond in the rough and I am so happy that I got to meet her.
I pedal off into the cool morning and to my surprise there’s none of that damp humidity I’ve come to expect! I intended to go off route a bit in order to shave a few miles off of my day but one too many close calls with a semi loaded with future toilet paper changed my mind. It was a good thing, too, because the route took me through some beautiful back country roads with nary a car in sight. I’m heading down a straight stretch when I see a little pupperoni coming in at full speed headed straight towards me! No worries, James. He’s not that big, so I ready my water cannon. He got about 5 feet ahead of me, executed a perfect 180 and was coming in hot on my tail. James – SQUIRT! Dog – DODGE! Dammit. He hooks around to the left and I ready another shot. DIRECT HIT! Straight up his little doggy nostrils. He stops in his tracks and proceeds to have an uncontrollable sneezing fit. It’s a this time I hear a woman laughing her ass off from the front door of the house I’m coming up on. I’m guessing she came outside just in time to see this epic battle of Man VS Beast go down. James – 1 Dog – 0.
NEW STATE!!! Watch out, Florida. James and his bike are here! I get to about the 30 mile mark and decide to stop in at Mickey D’s for a round of second breakfast and some leg fueling Mountain Dew. I get to talking to a guy outside and he asks me where I’m coming from. I tell him Virginia and he just says, “HOLY SHIT!!!” and proceeds to walk off, laughing and just repeating, “You’re crazy, man” over and over. Indeed I am 🙂 I set off headed in an easterly direction and this whipping side wind I’ve had all morning turns into the most amazing tailwind. You all know what that means. Go ahead, say it out loud. It’s fun. T-T-T-T-TURTLE POWER UP!!!! My map tells me I have another 45 miles of road ahead and all of it is pointed in the same direction. Bitching. I get low on my handlebars, put Forrest in Cruise Control, unfurl my mighty sails and speed away at cool 21 MPH.
I kill the next 20 miles in right under an hour (math, am I right?!) and I’m feeling amazing. Now I don’t want to sound ungrateful for this blessing bestowed upon me by the One True Turtle, may the sun ever warm His Shell, but I’ve noticed one small downside to this killer tailwind. Since I’m cruising along at approximately the same speed as the wind, it’s like I’m effectively standing still in terms of the air blowing past my body. That means I’m just sweating up a storm and there’s no breeze to evaporate the sweat and cool me down. I would take a hot, sweaty tailwind any day over almost any other alternative but there it is, a mild annoyance at best.
I breeze through the remaining miles with ease (relatively speaking, of course. Cycling is hard work). I get to my campsite for the evening, unpack my gear, set up my tent and decide that I could really use some beers after this hot and sweaty afternoon. I leave and head a few miles up the road to the nearest convenience store where I purchase one of those cheap styrofoam coolers, a 6 pack and a bag of ice. I strap it to the back of Forrest like the true cycling redneck that I am and head back to camp. On the way back I see a big ass tortoise, about the size of two footballs, crossing the road. Not a turtle, mind you, but we well know that all Shelled amphibians are holy in the eyes of the Slow One. I go to grab my phone to snap a pic as I help my new friend across but it’s not in my bag. Crap. I left it at the convenience store… I deposit Sir Shelly safely out of the way of any careless drivers and pedal as fast as I can back up the road. Thankfully my phone is right where I stupidly left it and all was right with the world. Thanks, Mr. Shelly.
Well that’s all for now, friends. Time to drink some beer and enjoy my evening. Tomorrow I’m planning a short rest day but we’ll see how that goes. Stay tuned for the next edition of James and his Bike!